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  • The blackbird

    Brett Westwood

    Naturalist and broadcaster

    Just a few paces from where I’m sitting, blackbirds are bickering in the garden.

    It’s bleak mid-winter, but I know that soon, on a mild, rain-washed evening I’ll hear the first blackbird song of spring.

    I can measure out my life in these mellow notes. Their soothing soundstream hauls precious memories back into the spotlight. A morning on the Lizard in Cornwall where a soloist performed in a rocky amphitheatre against a backdrop of crashing waves. The blackbirds which surprised me by singing from the snowy rooftops of Reykjavik. Kate Bush, mimicking the blackbirds “Song of Summer” on her wonderful album Aerial.

    Best of all are the everyday blackbirds in my street or garden. At times of stress and anxiety, and there have been more of those than usual recently, their song…

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  • Naturehood: transform your garden into a butterfly paradise

    Earthwatch Europe

    Partner organisation of the Watches

    By Chloë Dalglish – Naturehood Community Engagement Officer Oxford, Earthwatch Europe

    Their numbers now vary dramatically year on year due to changes in climate, habitat loss and fragmentation. The long hot summer that we all enjoyed in 2019 is expected to send their numbers plummeting this year because of its effect on their reproduction cycle.  

    Some species of butterflies, including the small tortoiseshell, hibernate as adults. You may spot one overwintering in your garden shed, and the sight of them emerging in spring from their long sleep is wonderful, but sadly, these creatures are becoming less common.

    Once abundant, the UK’s small tortoiseshell butterfly has experienced a population decline of three quarters since the 1970s.

    With 97% fewer wildflower meadows now than in the 1940s, and intensive farming practices removing lots of hedgerow habitat, it’s easy to see why these colourful invertebrates need our help.

    With a few simple actions in your garden you can help…

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  • British Birds: Surviving a changing climate


    Partner organisation of the Watches

    By James Pearce-Higgins, Director of Science, British Trust for Ornithology

    The issue of climate change is in the news on an almost daily basis. We are seeing growing evidence of its impacts on the natural world, from the bleaching of corals in the Indian Ocean, to raging wildfires in Australia, to shrinking ice-sheets affecting polar bears in the Arctic. Closer to home, the fingerprints of climate change are all over the British countryside, but here, the impacts on species are not always negative.

    On a dark January morning, the long hot days of summer seem a world away. But in less than three months, thousands of birdwatchers will be getting up early to take part in an annual monitoring scheme run by the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) in partnership with the RSPB and JNCC. By spending just two early mornings counting birds in a specific 1km square, they contribute to national monitoring that has tracked changes in the abundance of breeding bird populations across Britain for…

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  • In search of the yellowhammer

    National Trust

    Partner organisation of the Watches

    By James Roden, Area Ranger for National Trust, Pembrokeshire

    ‘Close to a hill of ants where Cowslips bloom - And shed o'er meadows far their sweet perfume. - In early spring, when winds blow chilly cold, - The Yellowhammer, trailing grass will come,- To fix a place and choose an early home, With Yellow breast and head of solid gold.

    John Clare wrote these words about the yellowhammer - the…

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  • Killing killers

    Laura Howard

    Digital Producer for The Watches

    Orca, or killer whales are the largest members of the dolphin family. These enigmatic animals are apex predators, positioned right at the top of the food chain. No other animals hunt orcas except for humans. 

    They’re also the most widely distributed of all whales and dolphins and can be found in every single ocean, including waters around the UK. Your best chance of seeing them in the UK is…

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  • Brent geese: urban explorers


    Partner organisation of the Watches

    By the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (WWT)

    Brent geese winter wildlife spectacle WWT Castle Espie Wetland Centre

    One of the toughest birds found in the British Isles

    Where would you expect to find a voyager from the High Arctic? Probably not a Dublin park, but that’s exactly what happens every winter when thousands of little geese descend. It’s the light-bellied brent goose: arguably the toughest bird on the British Isles. So why does this wild creature pop up here?


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  • OUR BLUE HEART - an exploration of what the sea means to people in the UK

    Marine Conservation Society (MCS)

    Partner organisation of the Watches

    In summer 2018 the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) put together a film crew with a mission to get to the very heart of what the sea really means to people in the UK. The crew conducted interviews across the country to investigate people’s experience of and relationship with our ocean. The resulting film, Our Blue Heart, reveals that, for many of us, the coast and sea play a unique and…

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  • Saving snowy white mountain hares

    People's Trust for Endangered Species (PTES)

    Partner organisation of the Watches

    By Nida Al-Fulaij, Grants Manager at PTES

    Think of winter and memories of cold, crisp days come to mind, intertwined with the greyer and more windswept days. The contrast between bright and bleak days is represented by our native wildlife too; mammals such as hedgehogs and hazel dormice hide away and hibernate during the cooler months, whereas bright red robins are delightfully visible…

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  • Winterwatch returns, BBC2 from 8 pm Tues Jan 28 to Friday Jan 31

    Mark Flowers

    Series Producer of the Watches

    Our last visit to this spectacular Cairngorms location

    This Winterwatch rounds up a year in the Cairngorms.  Chris Packham, Michaela Strachan, Gillian Burke and Iolo Williams broadcast live for their last visit to this epic Scottish location.

    They’ll not only review an incredible year in the Highlands spent amongst eagles, pine martens, crested tits, capercaillies and iconic granny pines, they’ll…

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  • 2020: a crucial year for nature


    Partner organisation of the Watches

    By Beccy Speight, CEO of the RSPB

    We are at the beginning of a crucial year for nature. The signs of our impact on the planet are catastrophically evident, with devastating wildfires ravaging Australia and Arctic ice melting at a frightening pace. The climate emergency is having a huge impact on the wildlife with which we share this fragile planet.

    Later this year there are two global…

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